I must give props to my good friend, Julie E. for her research for this project. Julie has two young boys, just like I do, and finding a natural detergent that will get the grass stains out of pants was on her to do list. After doing her research, she came up with a great recipe.
Why make your own laundry detergent? Let’s take a look at what is in your typical name brand detergent.
Surfactants: Surfactants are what make products foam. Companies are not required to list what surfactant is used, and if it is not labeled a “natural surfactant”, it is a chemical surfactant. Most surfactants are petroleum based as well, unless they are made from plant sources like coconuts.
Benzene is a chemical surfactant that is in many detergents. If labeled, it will say “anionic surfactant” on the label. Benzene is a known carcinogen and receives a 10 out of 10 warning on the EWG Skin Deep Website. Benzene is banned in many countries.
Phosphates: Phosphates are used as a water softener. You may have noticed a lot of detergents now say “low phosphate” or “phosphate-free” these days. Phosphates are hard to break down, and enter waterways. Phosphates act as fertilizer in the environment, and allow algae to overgrow, decrease oxygen in the water, and kill of fish and other marine life.
Petroleum Distillates (napthas): Derived from crude oil, petroleum distillates are a solvent used to dissolve dirt. This chemical has been linked to lung cancer, lung inflammation, and mucous membrane damage.
And then, of course, are the artificial colors and scents that are harmful as well.
Are those enough reasons to make your own? It is really very easy and only requires three easy to find ingredients:
- 1 bar of organic castile soap (I HIGHLY recommend any of the Dr. Bronners castile soap in any scent. I used peppermint.)
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing SODA (not baking soda…)
Using the shredding attachment on my food processor, we quickly chopped the bar of soap in little pieces. It looked like cheese, and smelled like peppermint. My son was tempted to taste it… Next, we replaced the attachment for the blade, and pureed the soap to a fine powder. Next we mixed in the borax and the washing soda and gave it a quick spin. Walah!
You only need about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for normal loads, and 1 tablespoon for light loads like bath towels or sheets that aren’t visibly soiled. For stains or heavy soils, you can use a couple squirts of Bac-Out to pretreat. Your laundry room will smell fantastic with the scent, but your clothes come out smelling clean, with no peppermint smell.
I was able to find all of the ingredients at my Kroger. The washing soda and borax were cheaper at Wal-Mart, but they didn’t have the castile soap. Some natural recipes call for Fels-Naptha soap, but this is also derived from petroleum, so I would opt for organic castile soap.
If you are interested in trying out this natural soap, but are not able (or don’t want to) make your own, please email me at livingcrunchy @ gmail.com, and you can purchase a batch from me through paypal.